|Wednesday, 18 October 2017|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-10-21
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Thursday, 21 October 2010 Issue No: 3624
 PM tells meeting with young entrepreneurs: No new burden on salary, pension earnersPrime Minister George Papandreou on Wednesday assured that there will be no further burden placed on salary and pension earners, nor an increase in tax rates, addressing an event for young entrepreneurs organised by the regional development and competitiveness ministry on Wednesday.
Greece, he said, was at a turning point. "We are making the largest reduction of the deficit ever done in the country, and have unprecedented results," Papandreou said, stressing that "this should give us self-confidence that we can achieve the targets we set".
In a greeting to the event/meeting between young innovative entrepreneurs and regional development and competitiveness minister Michalis Chryssohoidis, Papandreou said that his government will abide by its commitments and there will be no new increase in tax rates or burden on salary and pension earners.
Papandreou said that everyone "inside and outside Greece" must realise that the Greek people have made "unprecedented sacrifices", stressing that "through the enhancement of the taxation system, which is a fundamental target of the government, a reduction of taxes will be achieved", and pledging that "the clientele state, with its parasitic and its state-dependent economy of wasteful spending will cease to exist".
"We are moving to a change of the production model, and this vision needs to be adopted by the (productive) forces of the country themselves," he said, adding that the "young innovative entrepreneurs are the spearhead for investment in knowledge and the human factor".
The premier also said that incentives will be given so that the youth will not leave the country but stay and "innovate" in Greece, and expressed his "deep conviction" that, albeit much work is necessary, "we can change the state".
Addressing the meeting, Chryssohoidis said the aim is for government and entrepreneurs "to speak the same language", warning that there was no room for further delay. "We are seeking ways to fill the confidence deficit existing between the state and entrepreneurship," he said.
"We live in a Greece of 'bubbles' and consumption that bursts over you and creates obstacles to growth and extroversion," the minister said, noting that those who are trying to build their own business today shoulder a large risk, resulting in a trend of leaving the country and marginalization in the young generation.
The ministry's goal is for the proposals by the young entrepreneurs to comprise developmental incentives and to achieve easy and quick access to the financing tools.
He added that an internet platform will be created in the coming months with innovative ideas from all over the country, while actions will be advanced via the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) and the new development law.
Main opposition New Democracy (ND) spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos, commenting on the prime minister's statements to young entrepreneurs stated that "the government's policy is identified with closed businesses, the drying out of the market and economic suffocation".
As regards the assurances that salaries and pensions will not be affected, Panagiotopoulos stated that the messages received show that "more cruel measures are on the way after the local government elections" next month.
 FM in Cairo, meets with Arab League SecGen: Mideast peace process must be safeguardedCAIRO (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
Greek foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas, currently on a tour of the Middle East, met Tuesday night with Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa in Cairo, with both sides urging preservation of the Middle East peace process, warning that its permanent discontinuation could lead to further exacerbation and spillover of the crisis in the wider region.
The Egyptian-born Moussa, who heads the 22-member forum representing Arab nations, briefed Droutsas on the League's efforts for a constructive intercession on the Middle East problem.
Moussa was cited as stressing that "sincere desire by both sides" is needed to safeguard the peace process, adding that by decision of the leaders of the League's member countries, the peace process has been extended by one month in order to enable investigation and exhaustion of all possibilities of restarting the stalled direct negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
Droutsas also discussed with Moussa a plan for further enhancing Greece's relations with the Arab League given that EU-member Greece, under an existing Cooperation Agreement, convey the Arab League's message to the European Union, thus facilitating the handlings in a fluid and sensitive situation.
The Greek foreign minister winds up his four-day Mideast tour on Wednesday with a visit to and talks in Lebanon. The tour also encompassed Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
 Droutsas interviews with Al Ahram, Al Rai newspapersForeign Minister Dimitris Droutsas, currently on a tour of the Middle East, underlined that assisting and supporting the peace process in the Middle East was a priority issue for Greece's foreign policy, with a view to restoring stability and security in the region.
The Greek minister made the statement in an interview appearing the Cairo-based newspaper Al Ahram on Wednesday.
Droutsas said that Athens wants to actively contribute to negotiations striving toward a solution that will lead to the "creation of two independent states - Israeli and Palestinian - whose peoples will enjoy security and peace".
He also praised Egypt's leading role in the effort to enhance peace and stability in the region, saying that Athens accept Egypt as a key country in the region.
Droutsas pointed to the warm and friendly ties between Greece and Egypt and the close cooperation between the two countries in dealing with crises that emerged on a regional and international level, such as that of restoring peace in the Middle East, while emphasising the important role played by Egypt's president Hosni Mubarak.
"Greece does not forget the visit of support carried out by President Mubarak to our country last May, when he met President Karolos Papoulias and held talks with Prime Minister George Papandreou during a period in which our country was faced with an especially difficult economic crisis and had immediate need of support from friendly countries," Droutsas stressed.
"The strengthening of ties between Greece and Egypt, as well as those between Greece and Arab world, which is now an important strategy for my country and especially during this period, will actively contribute to solving the Palestinian problem," he said, adding that Athens was interested in hearing the views of the Egyptian side and exchanging views on regional and global issues of common interest.
Droutsas also expressed Athens' support for the efforts being made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to bring about a reconciliation within the Palestinian camp and stressed that the "period we are currently going through is particularly crucial and demands great attention in order to pave the way for the continuation of direct Israeli-Palestinian talks".
Droutsas denied the view that the effort to expand ties with Israel would necessarily strain Greece's relations with the Arab world.
"This view is mistaken. Greece's relations with the Arab world and with Israel are not conflicting. On the contrary, they enhance each other in the effort being made by Greece to make a real contribution to the issues troubling the region," he said.
He stressed that Athens was constantly seeking ways to strengthen its relations with other countries in the region, while Greece's leadership was in constant communication with the Arab countries involved in the conflict and there was a steady exchange of views.
"Greece's position is clear cut toward all sides and has as its focus the solution of the Palestinian problem through the creation of two independent states with established borders. Greece is ready to play an active role in terms of settling this dispute, based on its traditionally warm ties with the Arab world and the trust that exists between Athens and all Arab capitals," he added.
In an earlier interview published by the Jordan-based newspaper Al Rai on Tuesday, Droutsas commented on his meeting with King Abdullah II and the Jordanian monarch's influential role in the region.
Noting that his visit came at a critical time where the future of peace in the Middle East was concerned, he stressed that Greece has important relations in the region and has always promoted peace and stability in the Middle East.
The minister highlighted the significance of his meetings with all the parties involved in the peace process in the region, especially the Palestinians and Israelis, in order to end the conflict and achieve peace at the earliest possible opportunity.
Droutsas also underlined the vital role of the European Union in the Middle East peace process and said this was indicative of the heightened international interest in ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and restore peace in the region. The Greek minister said that he was working closely with his counterparts in the EU, especially EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, in relation to the action that was required from the EU and the common position regarding the Middle East.
The minister added that work is underway through the Quartet to increase international efforts for reaching a "just and comprehensive peace." Accomplishing a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a priority and well-founded conviction of the EU, he added.
 FM in Lebanon, talks with President, PMBEIRUT (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
The Middle East, issues of Greek interest (Cyprus and FYROM), as well as Greek-Lebanese bilateral cooperation were at the focus of talks between Greece's foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas and Lebanese leaders in Beirut on Wednesday, on the last stop of Droutsas' four-day tour of the Middle East.
During a meeting with president Michel Suleiman, whom Droutsas called a "symbol of unity" for Lebanon, the Greek official discussed the fluidity of the political scene in the region and prospective repercussions.
He assured the Lebanese president that Greece "supports the territorial integrity, independence and unity of Lebanon" and the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.
On the three "dimensions" of the Middle East issue (Palestine, Lebanon and Syria), it was stressed that Lebanon's contribution is needed for a way out on the Palestinian issue, adding that a solution of one of the three dimensions would positively impact the other two.
During a separate meeting with prime minister Sa'ad al-Hariri, the need was stressed of safeguarding the Middle East peace process, while the "definitive role" of the US and Israel was also noted. According to sources, the two officials also discussed the risk that a diversion from the process could cause explosive side-effects, and stressed the need for the international community to take a stance "with one voice".
Al-Hariri also noted the problem created by the presence of 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, while the relations between Syria and Lebanon and the sensitive political conjuncture in Beirut were also discussed.
Droutsas also invited the Lebanese prime minister, who has excellent relations with Greek counterpart George Papandreou, to visit Athens.
In another meeting with foreign minister Ali al-Shami, Droutsas discussed bilateral cooperation, and the two ministers stressed the need for upgrading economic cooperation, including through activation of a Greece-Lebanon Business Forum.
The two foreign ministers also reviewed progress in bilateral relations since Papandreou's visit to Lebanon six months ago, noting that the two countries' role of a "bridge" between the Middle East and Europe should be further utilised.
According to sources, in discussing the Middle East, al-Shami expressed concern over Israel's stance and the settlement issue.
Droutsas further briefed his Lebanese counterpart on the FYROM name issue -- Lebanon's stance on the issue is in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
The two foreign ministers will have a working lunch later, which will also be attended by Lebanon's tourism minister and the president of the country's Business Chamber.
 FM Droutsas concludes Beirut visitBEIRUT (ANA-MPA/Ch. Poulidou)
Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas concluded his visit to Beirut with a visit to places of reference of Hellenism and Orthodoxy.
More specifically, the Greek minister visited the Metropolitan of Beirut of the Greek Orthodox Church Ilias and toured Beirut's orthodox hospital.
 Gov't on the cancellation of Astakos investment"The cancellation of the investment in Astakos does not affect the cooperation memorandum with Qatar for investments of 5 billion dollars signed recently in the United States," government spokesman George Petalotis said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
Petalotis said that "there was a problem within the consortium, between the investors involved," adding that "our relations with Qatar are excellent".
He also stressed that "the remaining collaborations amounting to 5 billion euros, which were signed in the United States, are still effective, while in the letter (sent by the company) Qatar expresses interest in other cooperation in the sector of energy".
Petalotis added that "the likelihood for more investments by Qatar is open, at least based on what they say".
A Qatari-led consortium withdrew its interest for building a terminal for liquified natural gas and an electricity production station in Astakos, western Greece, after the group failed to reach an agreement with Italian consumers over the price of the product, according to sources.
The decision was notified to the Greek side with a letter sent by the company to Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Spyros Kouvelis, stating that the Emirate was withdrawing its interest in participating in the consortium. The letter noted that the investors from Qatar were open to other energy cooperations.
 Reactions to the cancellation of Astakos investmentMain opposition New Democracy (ND) sector head for development and competitiveness Kostis Hatzidakis and sector head for energy and natural resources Mihalis Yiannakis made a joint statement on Wednesday in reaction to the cancellation of the Qatari investment in Astakos, underlining that the government's jubilation has proven to be premature.
They also underlined that the government policy on the specific investment was not clear, considering that some of the ministers involved appeared to support its acceleration and others its deceleration.
On his part, Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) Parliamentary Group President Alexis Tsipras stated that "the prime minister is exposed" and added that "the investment was cancelled because Qatar was reluctant to invest in a project that was unsound both from an environmental point of view and financially".
 ND leader addresses Women's Affairs Secretariat eventMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras, addressing, Wednesday evening, an event held by the party's Women's Affairs Secretariat for support for the candidacies of Vassilis Kikilias in the Attica region and Nikitas Kaklamanis in the Athens municipality, sent the message "no more measures."
Samaras said "it can go no further, something must change, the policy of the memorandum (IMF/EU support mechanism) must change," adding that "the memorandum was not a one-way path and on the contrary the policies of the memorandum lead to a vicious circle of recession, economic paralysis and to even harsher measures that are merely being postponed in light of the local administration elections."
He accused Prime Minister George Papandreou of "driving the situation to the memorandum and downgraded the country abroad" and that the ruling PASOK "has deceived the Greeks and now it is trying to blackmail them".
He further called on citizens to send a message to the government through the local administration elections that a different path exists.
"The opportunity is before us and must not be lost," Samaras stressed and added that "let everyone think how worse things will be if the government can claim tomorrow that its decisions are rewarded, if the government believes that the people agree with the padlocks, with the cutbacks in incomes, with the high cost of living, with unemployment."
Samaras also pointed out that in the case the government is not decried, harsher measures will come on the day after the elections.
"We are not simply and only against the memorandum, against the mist and the depression that it is spreading in the country, we are expressors of a different proposal that is condensed in the triptych growth-prospect-hope," the ND leader underlined.
 LAOS leader tours central Athens, stresses migrant problemPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis on Wednesday carried out a tour in central Athens to support his party's candidates in the local government elections. Afterward, the party leader emphasised the problems created by illegal immigrants in the centre of Athens.
From Sophocleous Street in central Athens, an area occupied mainly by migrants, Karatzaferis said that Athens was being "dominated and ghettoised" by its migrant population, urging the prime minister and main opposition leader Antonis Samaras to "come down and see the truth close up".
"We believe that this is the dominant issue for all Athenians and all residents of Attica, and this is what we are doing: highlighting the problems," he said.
 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president visits RussiaMOSCOW (ANA-MPA/Th. Avgerinos)
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president Petros Efthymiou on Wednesday held successive meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Speaker of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, in the framework of the preparation of the Organisation's summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, on December 1-2.
In an announcement, the Russian Foreign ministry stressed that the Russian minister "underlined the importance to be given to the OSCE's operation, including its Parliamentary dimension, a more balanced character, its effectiveness to be boosted through its conversion to a full-powered interstate organisation, that will be based on exlicit and collectively agreed rules."
According to Russian diplomatic sources, in the front line of discussions within the Organisation lie the procedures for its renewal, so that it will respond to the new security needs in Europe and to a great extent these discussions continue the so-called "Corfu procedure" that had been inaugurated when Greece held the Organisation's presidency in 2009.
Upon the expiry of the Greek presidency, the Athens Proclamation was adopted and the presidency was delivered to Kazakhstan, which in turn will deliver it to Lithuania.
As was pointed out at the Russian Foreign ministry, Lavrov, among other things, expressed his pleasure over the initiative of the Parliamentary Assembly and its president Efthymiou to appeal to the presidents of the Parliaments of all 56 member-states, to secure the greatest possible representation at the Astana summit at a crucial moment for the Organisation's future, whose reforming Russia has been requesting persistently for years.
Efthymiou arrived in Moscow from Lithuania, where he was received by the president of the Republic, the Parliament speaker and the Foreign minister.
 Greece-Slovenia Memorandum of Understanding ratifiedThe Greek Parliament approved with a majority vote (with the ruling PASOK, main opposition New Democracy, Popular Orthodox Rally LAOS voting in favour, the Communist Party of Greece KKE against and Radical Left Coalition SYRIZA declaring itself present) the Defence Ministry's bill with which the Memorandum of Understanding between the Defence Ministry and the Transport Ministry of Slovenia on the Cooperation of the Greek Hydrographic Service and the Slovenian Shipping Department is ratified.
During the discussion at the plenum, Alternate Defence Minister Panos Beglitis, responding to opposition deputies, referred to Thursday's visit to the country by the Turkish prime minister, reassuring "that the government in the talks it will be holding as well, as it does on every opportunity for dialogue and meetings, will defend the country's national interests, always on the basis of the positions that are supported by the very wide majority of the Greek people and the country's political forces."
 Heightened security at Greek diplomatic missions in US after telephone threatsNEW YORK (ANA-MPA/P. Panagiotou)
Beefed up security measures have been taken by US authorities at all Greek diplomatic and consular offices in the United States, following recent telephone threats received by the foreign ministry in Athens and Greece's Consulate General in Los Angeles threatening attacks against Greek diplomatic missions abroad, it was announced on Tuesday night.
The police guard at the General Consulate in New York has been increased, while all visitors are searched, Consul General Evangelos Kyriakopoulos told ANA-MPA.
Foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras had confirmed on Monday that the foreign ministry has received threats against Greek diplomatic missions abroad. He said that an unidentified caller claiming to belong to an Iranian organisation contacted the Greek General Consulate in Los Angeles on October 13 and threatened attacks against the personnel and buildings of Greek embassies and consulates abroad unless political asylum was granted to Iranians in Greece who have made such a request. The spokesman added that the local U.S. authorities were immediately alerted and had taken heightened security measures to protect the Greek missions in the United States.
Kyriakopoulos told ANA-MPA that in the past few days anonymous e-mails have been sent to the General Consulate in New York regarding the asylum-seeking Iranians in Greece, clarifying, however that "the messages were not threatening", nor were threatening phone calls received.
"We are awaiting the assessment of the threats received by our Consulate in Los Angeles," he added.
 UN special rapporteur urges revision of Dublin IIUN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Manfred Nowak expressed concern over conditions of detention for foreign nationals in Greece during a press conference on Wednesday that wrapped up a 10-day visit to the country at the invitation of the Greek government.
The UN Special Rapporteur, who visited numerous detention centres along the Greek borders, as well as, police stations in Athens and elsewhere in the country, called on the Greek government to ratify the international protocol against torture OPCAT and set up an independent authority (to operate independently from police and the citizen's protection ministry) to investigate complaints on inmate maltreatment and torture.
He also issued an appeal to the EU to revise the Dublin II Regulation and examine all the readmission cases of foreigners to Greece, pointing out that "the current crisis Greece is facing should become a starting point for the renegotiation of the Dublin II Regulation leading to a joint EU policy on asylum and migration.
The UN Special Rapporteur expressed great concern about the overcrowding in police station jails and in prisons, which in certain cases "is a cause of tension, and clashes between groups of inmates of different nationalities."
He stated that "many police stations in Athens have been turned into detention centres for migrants, who are being held there for periods longer than six months, their numbers are four times higher than allowed, and the detention areas are filthy with poor ventilation and lighting conditions. They have no access to information, no interpreters and no legal aid or medical care".
He said that access to the asylum procedure is difficult and characterized the entire system as dysfunctional but, at the same time, praised the Greek government decision for an action plan on asylum seekers, underlining that "the action plan will have to be 'translated' into legislative measures and be implemented."
 UNHCR Greece on the Iranian hunger strikersThe head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Greece George Tsarbopoulos on Wednesday issued a statement on the hunger strike staged by Iranian asylum seekers in downtown Athens in support of their "legitimate claim" to have their asylum request examined.
"The hunger strike of the Iranian asylum seekers at Propylea, seven of which have sewn their lips shut, is founded on their legitimate claim to have their asylum requests examined and receive a definitive decision on their status based on the provisions included in the legislation on refugees," the statement underlined.
"It is worth noting that among the hunger strikers are people whose first degree interviews have delayed for over a year, while for others, second degree interviews are pending for years," according to UNHCR Greece.
It is underlined that the radical reform of the asylum granting system is imperative to ensure the fair, speedy and effective examination of requests and the issuing of relevant decisions.
The UNHCR Greece called on the competent authorities "to proceed without any further delay to the scheduled examination of the Iranian asylum seekers' requests" and concluded that it "supports any relevant requests made by asylum seekers regardless of nationality, given that the law guarantees their right to a fair and speedy response by the national authorities as regards their status".
 Bill on desalination plants posted on InternetThe environment ministry on Wednesday posted a draft bill giving municipalities incentives to install desalination plans on the Internet for a period of open public debate. The bill is intended to tackle water shortage problems on Greek islands with low rainfall and fresh water sources.
The draft bill will remain posted on the Internet at www.opengov.gr until October 27.
 Fiscal deficit reduction progressing positivelyThe monthly trend of reducing the country's excessive fiscal deficit is better than provisions included in a Economic Policy Program, on a fiscal basis, according to available data on the execution of the state budget in the nine-month period from January to September 2010.
An announcement by the Finance ministry on Wednesday, said the fiscal deficit fell to 16.299 billion euros, from 23.579 billion euros in 2009, a decline of 30.9 pct, up from a budget target for a decline of 29 pct on the nine-month period, although the annual target for cutting the deficit is 36.9 pct.
The ministry noted that a difference from the annual target was attributed mainly to increased spending on interest -accounting more than 88 pct of the annual provision- while a difference in revenues was overshadowed by a better-than-expected course in public spending.
Regular budget net revenues rose 3.6 pct in the January-September period, compared with the same period last year, down from a budget target for an annual growth rate of 8.7 pct. An improvement in the revenue leg in the nine-month period from the eight month period (3.4 pct) reflected mainly higher VAT revenues (up 16.9 pct in September).
Budget spending fell 7.0 pct in the January-September period, with primary spending down 11.6 pct, surpassing an annual target for a decline of 9.2 pct, while interest spending grew 8.0 pct. A cut in primary spending reflected mainly lower spending for healthcare services, lower operating spending and lower payments on pensions and salaries.
The Public Investment Program's spending were down 30.3 pct and revenues were up 3.3 pct in the nine-month period.
 Greece's current accounts deficit down 44.5pct in AugustGreece's current accounts deficit shrank by 44.5 pct in August to 250 million euros, compared with the same month last year, with the deficit in the January-August period falling 2.5 pct to 15.8 billion euros, the Bank of Greece said on Wednesday.
The central bank, in a report, said this development mainly reflected a shrinking trade deficit as a result of an economic recession in the country. The trade deficit recorded a 9.7 pct decline in imports (1.7 billion euros), with exports down 3.6 pct to 270 million euros. However, net payments on fuel imports rose 20.7 pct and net payments on ship purchase grew 2.5 pct in August.
An increase in the services surplus by 268 million euros reflects higher net revenues from transport services (15.2 pct), while tourism foreign currency inflows fell 7.3 pct or 554 million euros and travel expenses by Greeks abroad fell 8.8 pct or by 144 million euros.
The incomes deficit fell by 52 million euros, reflecting lower net payments on interest, dividends and earnings. The current transfers surplus fell by 584 million euros, with the capital transfer balance recording a surplus of 787 million euros.
The Bank of Greece said the economy's needs for financing from abroad rose to 15 billion euros, from 14.6 billion euros last year.
The financial transactions balance recorded massive liquidation of Greek state bonds by foreign investors in the January-August period. The central bank said capital outflows from state securities totalled 26.5 billion euros, while capital outflows by Greek citizens totalled 1.2 billion euros. These outflows were partly counterbalanced by an inflow of 10.4 billion euros as domestic financial institutions cut their holdings in foreign bonds and T-bills.
The other investment category recorded a net inflow of 33.9 billion euros.
 Environment minister presents plan for green development at Economist ConferenceEnvironment Minister Tina Birbili on Wednesday told an Economist conference on the issue of climate change that the Greek environment ministry's development programme provides for energy-sector investments amounting to 44 billion euros that are expected to create 200,000 new jobs.
The minister said the programme was the strategic plan presented to employers and trade unions in the summer and is comprised of four main lines of action: transition to a low-emission economy, protection of biodiversity with sustainable management of natural resources, improved quality of life with urban improvements and enhanced environmental governance.
It will include investments in new power plants, renewable energy sources, networks, energy conservation measures and improving energy-efficiency in buildings. Birbili stressed that the country's construction sector was called to meet the challenge of renovating the country's buildings in order to conserve energy.
"Support of agricultural development through subsidies, of the mass tourism model and [support of economic growth] by construction can no longer continue. They have already had bad repercussions for the country," she underlined.
Concerning the climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico Birbili said that all the signs pointed to the problem being postponed for another year since the U.S. and the developing economies were not ready to agree to binding targets and the EU could not increase its commitments unless there was a commitment from the U.S. and China.
The minister also stressed that green development was a lever for exiting the economic crisis, noting that one sixth of economic support packages in 2008-2009 - roughly one trillion dollars - were directed toward green projects.
 Dep. FM Kouvelis addresses Economist conference; comments on AstakosThe need for a global commitment when dealing with climate change and trying to adjust to the new situation was underlined by Deputy Foreign Minister Spyros Kouvelis on Wednesday referring to the imminent UN Climate Chance Conference in Cancun in December.
Addressing the 2nd Economist Sustainability Summit "The green agenda after Copenhagen", Kouvelis underlined the Greek government's actions on a regional level in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
"The Black Sea turns green" is the initiative undertaken by the Greek BSEC (Black Sea Economic Cooperation) Chairmanship, he said, adding that a relevant joint declaration will be issued in the upcoming meeting of BSEC Foreign Ministers on Nov. 26.
Kouvelis referred to the initiatives for the Mediterranean and stated that Prime Minister George Papandreou will unveil on Friday the "Initiative for the Climate Change in the Mediterranean". He stressed that the actions undertaken "give our region - among the most vulnerable worldwide to the climate change - a strong voice in the Cancun conference.
Commenting on the "unfortunate" development, as he described it, of the cancellation of an Astakos investment, he stated that "on an inter-state level all necessary procedures were set in motion to ensure that there would be no delays in the licensing of the project, but no agreement was reached among the investors. Greece has and will continue to have the role of an energy hub in SE Europe."
Earlier, Kouvelis had told reporters that the disagreement that led to the cancellation of the deal concerned the rates that would have been charged for the electricity produced in the specific plant.
He also stated that the government has the obligation to create the appropriate institutional and investment environment, which was done and acknowledged but, on the other hand, the private investors will have to assume their share of responsibility as well.
 National Bank announces completion of share capital increase with convertible notesNational Bank of Greece on Wednesday announced the bank's share capital increase by 1,138,202 euros as a result of the conversion of all convertible notes into 227,640,590 new common registered shares of nominal value of 5.0 euros each.
The bank said its board certified the conversion and cancelled the convertible notes. The difference between the nominal value of the new shares and the issue/conversion price of the convertible notes, which amounted to 45,528,118 euros, will be credited to the bank's share premium account.
Accordingly, the bank's total paid up share capital currently amounts to 5,137,952,410 euros, divided into 956,090,482 common registered shares of nominal value of 5.0 euros per share, 25,000,000 non-cumulative redeemable preference registered shares without voting rights of nominal value of 0.30 euros per share and 70,000,000 redeemable preference shares of nominal value of 5.0 euros per share.
The date on which the new shares will be credited to beneficiaries and the date of commencement of their trading on the Athens Stock Exchange will be announced to the public in forthcoming announcement of the bank in accordance with the prospectus approval by the Capital Markets Commission.
 ATEbank prepares restructuring planGreek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Wednes-day met with ATEbank's governor Theodore Pantalakis. Speaking to reporters, after the meeting, Pantalakis said the meeting focused on additional plans toward the restructuring of ATEbank and a needed share capital increase plan, worth 325 million euros. The share capital increase plan needs to be discussed with an IMF/EU/ECB troika as regards as the state's participation in the scheme.
The need for the restructuring of ATEbank emerged after the results of the latest stress test on European banks early in the summer. A group of international consultants, hired by the Greek state to evaluate the state's equity participation in the banking system, is expected to present its report by the end of October, or early November.
 Finmin meets Hellenic Petroleum CEOFinance Minister George Papaconstantinou on Wednesday had a meeting with the chairman of Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) Tassos Giannitsis. No statements were made afterward and Giannitsis said they had discussed issues concerning ELPE.
 Greece expects double-digit growth in tourism next yearGreek Tourism Deputy Minister George Nikitiadis on Wednesday expressed his optimism over tourism trends next year. Speaking to reporters, the minister said both tourist arrivals and tourism revenues will rise in 2011 and said growth rates will be in double digits.
The ministry will have a meeting with representatives of 18 low-cost airlines and regional authorities to discuss ways to attracting more air flights in the country. Low-cost airlines are rapidly rising their flights to Greece, with Easy Jet announcing that passenger traffic totaled 1.1 million tourists this year, while tourism ministry officials expect that Ryannair could record 1.0 million passengers to Greece.
Greece is also seeking to attract more tourists from countries outside Shenghen. The minister called for an EU tourism ministers' council to discuss ways to allowing free movement of tourists from Russia, China and India.
 Home building cost up in SeptemberBuilding cost grew in September and in the third quarter of 2010, compared with the corresponding periods last year, the National Statistical Authority said on Wednesday. In a report, the statistics service said the new home building materials' price index rose 3.1 pct in September after a decline of 2.1 pct recorded in September 2009, for an increase of 0.1 pct compared with August 2010. Diesel (32.1 pct), copper pipes (18.4 pct), plastic pipes (11.8 pct) and cement (0.6 pct) recorded the biggest percentage price increases, while brick prices fell 2.9 pct.
The new home building cost index rose 1.9 pct in the third quarter this year, compared with the same period in 2009, after a decline of 2.1 pct recorded in the same period last year, the statistics service said. The index was up 0.2 pct compared with the second quarter of 2010.
 Stocks end 1.02 pct upGreek stocks moved higher for the fourth consecutive session in the Athens Stock Exchange on Wednesday, with the composite index of the market rising 1.02 pct to end at 1,589.15 points. Turnover was low 90.487 million euros.
Eurobank (3.67 pct), Titan (4.55 pct), National Bank (1.93 pct), OPAP (1.75 pct) and Alpha Bank (1.53 pct) were top gainers among blue chip stocks, while MIG and PPC ended 2.35 pct and 2.05 pct lower, respectively.
The Big Cap index rose 1.15 pct, the Mid Cap index ended 0.53 pct higher and the Small Cap index ended 0.55 pct up. The Insurance (6.20 pct) and Constructions (2.86 pct) sectors scored the biggest percentage gains of the day, while Utilities (1.41 pct) and Financial Services (1.04 pct) were top losers.
Broadly, advancers led decliners by 87 to 74 with another 65 issues unchanged. Elmec Sport (18.37 pct), Ridenco (12.5 pct) and Nikas (10 pct) were top gainers, while Altec (11.11 pct), Compucon (11.11 pct) and Euroline (10.17 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: -0.99%
Personal & Household: +0.22%
Raw Materials: +0.17%
Travel & Leisure: +1.66%
Food & Beverages: +2.08%
Financial Services: -1.04%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Bank of Cyprus, OPAP and Eurobank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 5.30
Public Power Corp (PPC): 12.42
HBC Coca Cola: 18.90
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.77
National Bank of Greece: 8.44
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 5.08
Bank of Piraeus: 4.05
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market rose to 149 million euros on Wednesday, of which 43 million were buy orders and the remaining 106 million euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 14 million euros, while the yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German bonds eased to 659 basis points from 660 bps on Tuesday. The Greek bond yielded 9.025 pct and the German Bund 2.43 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.49 pct, the six-month rate 1.22 pct, the three-month 1.05 pct and the one-month rate 0.79 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe December contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at its fair value in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Wednesday, with turnover a low 32.579 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 6,557 contracts worth 25.329 million euros, with 28,292 open positions in the market. Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 11,339 contracts worth 7.249 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (3,164), followed by Eurobank (2,068), OPAP (529), Piraeus Bank (742), Alpha Bank (1,283), Marfin Popular Bank (241), Ellaktor (612), Cyprus Bank (687) and ATEbank (177).
 Foreign Exchange rates - ThursdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.397
Pound sterling 0.889
Danish kroner 7.517
Swedish kroner 9.386
Japanese yen 113.49
Swiss franc 1.346
Norwegian kroner 8.223
Canadian dollar 1.437
Australian dollar 1.426
 National Garden of Athens to be designated 'historical landmark'An oasis of green in the heart of bustling downtown Athens, the National Gardens will soon be formally designated as a "historical landmark", following the Central Council of Newer Monuments' approval of a relevant recommendation.
National Gardens board member Theodoros Bechrakis told ANA-MPA that the Gardens deserve the designation of "historical landmark" as it fulfills all the conditions, and is closely linked with the history of the Modern Greek state, as its evolution is a "record" of the historical events in modern Greece.
Meanwhile, a study is currently underway by the National Metsovion Polytechnic for revamping the landscaping of the 250-acre Garden, which is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2011 and is budgeted at 7.5 million euros.
Bechrakis said the revamping will mainly concern the Garden's infrastructures. He noted that although its "greenery" is in good condition, "there is also another aspect, that of its infrastructures and buildings, which belong to the previous century...those are what we want to improve to make them more functional".
The project will be carried out in two stages. In the first stage, the City of Athens will tender a 2.9 million euros upgrade of the infrastructures, and also a study, budgeted at 370,000 euros, for the restoration of the Garden's zoological park, botanical museum, the area containing the famed Roman mosaic, and restoration of the Herod Atticus wall. The second stage concerns restoration of the Garden's flora and removal of damaged shrubbery.
The densely planted National Garden of Athens is situated next to the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma Square and is open to the public daily from dawn till dusk. The tranquil park serves as a botanical garden with native and rare subtropical trees and plants and the path crossing it divides it into 80 units of various shapes and sizes in the French baroque style and with strict geometric structure. The garden includes as well, many statues, a fish pond, a duck pond (popular with children of all ages), a small zoo with animals and birds, a botanical museum, toilet facilities, a children's library and a large playground for smaller children.
The first plans of the garden were drawn up in 1836 by Freidrich von Gaertner, the architect of the Royal Palace. In 1839 the garden was redesigned by the Bavarian engineer Hoch, for Queen Amalia, to serve the palace and was called the Royal Garden. The landscaping started in 1839 with 15,000 plants brought from Genoa, as well as from the coastal area of Sounion and the island of Evia in Greece by a team led by the Bavarian horticulturalist Smarat. Later, the French horticulturalist Barrault from Constantinople (now Istanbul) completed the work. The cost of planting and maintaining this botanical garden was scandalous in the opinion of many contemporary Greeks. Over the years various storms and unusual cold spells have damaged or destroyed many of the plants and trees. Today there are approximately 7,000 trees and 40,000 plants. Before 1854 the gardens were closed to the public. Afterwards they were opened to the public when not in use by the then royalty.
In 1927 it ceased to be a private royal garden and became a public park open to the public, and was renamed the National Garden.
 Interview of MIT scientist and OTE board member Mihalis BletsasGreece needs to make giant leaps and not mere steps in order to cover the technological gap that separates it from the technologically advanced countries underlined Mihalis Bletsas, a distinguished Greek scientist at MIT, in an exclusive interview with ANA-MPA on Wednesday.
He also maintained that the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) policy needs to be revised to allow the country to make progress in the telecommunications sector, stressing that his schedule is hectic being a member of the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) board.
Referring to broadband technology in Greece, he said that the pace needs to be accelerated, stressing that OTE still pays for the conservatism that defined its strategy from 1996 onward.
One of the creators of the "100-dollar laptop", he referred to the mass production of the specific computer and ruled out the likelihood that this would be on sale in the Greek market because it was not designed for the markets of countries like Greece.
He said that he has left the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) programme to return to MIT but in the 3 years since it went on mass production roughly 1.2 million children across the world have their own laptop, while other 700,000 laptops will be ready soon.
 Weapons found, six arrested in soccer fan clubhouse raidsSix people were arrested after a raid on the premises of four soccer fan clubs revealed veritable arsenals of weapons and explosives, as well as drugs.
The raids were conducted on Tuesday afternoon in an operation launched by Attica Security Police as part of its effort to contain sports violence.
Police teams simultaneously carried out raids on an AEK fans club in Agioi Anargyroi, an Olympiakos fan club in Ilioupolis, a Panathinaikos club in Agios Dimitrios and a Panionios club in Nea Smyrni. They were accompanied by four public prosecutors.
At the AEK and Panionios clubs, police arrested six men between the ages of 21 and 32. Another two suspects have been charged for possession of explosives and weapons, flares, drugs and offences under the laws for sport.
The raid was carried out based on information collected by the security police that the specific clubs were stock-piling materials for making petrol bombs and ready-made incendiary devices in order to torch rival clubs, the cars of rival team supporters, as well as knives, clubs, hammers, and flare guns to let off during games.
During the raid in Agioi Anargyroi, police found six home-made petrol bombs, 4.4 grammes of cannabis, two flare-guns and flares, a flare-gun made to mimic a pen with six flares, a hockey club, a baseball bat, two planks, four wooden clubs, two metal rods with plastic handles, two metal clubs with makeshift handles, two parachute flares, two hand-held flares and on sledge hammer.
In Ilioupolis they found 13 wooden clubs and a 28-cm knife, a telescopic baton and a smoke bomb.
In Nea Smyrni the raid revealed four red parachute flares, five hand-held flares, six smoke bombs, one hand-held firework, nine fire crackers, six mechanisms for shooting flares, petrol bombs, plans and pieces of marble, a transparent plastic rod, a helmet and two heavy metallic accessories.
Police on Wednesday said that they intend to continue raids on fan's clubhouses and seek out the individuals involved in violence at sporting events.
The six individuals arrested went before a public prosecutor on Wednesday.
 Pleasure boat sinks - Passengers safeThe three foreign nationals who were on board the pleasure boat "SONIA" which caught fire and sank on Tuesday afternoon in the sea region northeast of Meganissi, near the Ionian island of Lefkada, are reported to be safe and well.
The "Meganissi II" ferry, transporting a Fire engine and a Coast Guard team, rushed to the assistance of the distressed pleasure boat, which caught fire for reasons as yet unknown, but despite the efforts the flaming boat sank.
No oil spill was detected.
The three passengers were rescued by a vessel sailing nearby vessel and were transported safely to Vathi port on Meganissi island.
 Two foreign nationals charged with drug dealingTwo Albanian nationals, aged 27 and 34, were arrested late Tuesday on the Kalamata -Tripolis highway, charged with drug dealing. A police search of the suspects' car revealed 50.4 grams of cocaine.
According to police the 27-year-old man was illegally residing in the country.
The drugs were confiscated and the two detainees will be sent before a Kalamata prosecutor.
 Maritime Affairs minister meets Special Olympics presidentMaritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries Minister Yiannis Diamantidis was briefed on the course of the hosting of the Special Olympics 2011, that will be taking place in Athens between June 25 and July 4, during his meeting on Wednesday with Special Olympics Hellas President Ioanna Despotopoulou.
Diamantidis reassured the ministry's intention of helping, in whatever way it can and that will be requested, the best preparation and holding of the Games at all levels.
The minister stressed that support for the Special Olympics is imperative on the part of the state, since it contributes in this way to the sensitisation of the public on providing equal opportunities to athletes with special abilities, claiming through sport their dignity, respect and accession to the activities of society.
He also underlined the importance that these Games have, since the country is promoted and its prestige is upgraded, particularly in this crucial and difficult economic conjuncture for Greece.
 Cloudy on ThursdayCloudy weather and westerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Thursday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 11C and 27C. Cloudy in Athens, with westerly 3-5 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 15C to 25C. Same in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 13C to 23C.
 The Wednesday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceGovernment's measures to boost employment, the cancellation of Qatari investment in Astakos energy project, the fines for tax evasion and speculation of additional measures, mostly dominated the headlines on Wednesday in Athens' newspapers
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Government will finance employers' social security contributions to avoid lay-offs".
APOGEVMATINI: "Pain-killer measures against the 'monster' of unemployment"
AVGHI: "The Memorandum went bankrupt - Welcome to the new Memorandum!"
AVRIANI: "MIG Vice President Andreas Vgenopoulos uncovered the corrupt system".
ELEFTHEROS: "Prime Minister George Papandreou is fooling everybody - All his programmes are inapplicable".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "FAST (track)...FIASCO with Qatar".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Qatar withdrew from Astakos investment".
ETHNOS: "Pupils, parents and teachers object to the new university entry registration form".
IMERISSIA: "Subsidy on contributions to avert the lay-offs storm".
KATHIMERINI: "Public sector the target of new cutbacks".
LOGOS: "Government lays the carpet for new measures".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "2.5 billion euros in programmes to safeguard 668,000 job positions".
NIKI: "Reforms to bring new cutbacks in salaries".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Protection for the unemployed a fraud'.
TA NEA: "EU to impose huge fines for excessive benefits to farmers".
ÔÏ ÂÇÌÁ: "Ratting by relatives, neighbors, on tax evasion".
VRADYNI: "Mockery towards enterprises and unemployed'.
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